Collaborative Family Law
What is Collaborative Family Law: A new way to resolve disputes by removing the disputed matter from the court room setting and treating the process as a way to “trouble shoot and problem solve” rather than to fight and win.
1. The process focuses the parties on constructive, mutually satisfactory methods of arriving at outcomes. This reduces conflict and hostility between the parties which can be significantly damaging to children;
2. Parties are often able to preserve a positive relationship;
3. The attorneys involve will have specialized training in family law dispute resolution and will not create or worsen conflict;
4. The use of neutral experts can significantly reduce the cost of the divorce;
5. The parties maintain control and direct involvement in the process.
6. The ability of the parties to keep their matters private;
7. Collaborative family law is extremely flexible. It allows the parties, working together with their attorneys, to explore creative solutions to meet their circumstances.
8. The potential for cost savings and the parties will have direct control over the cost of the process.
How Does Collaborative Family Law Work?
In collaborative family law each party hires a specially trained and certified collaborative attorney, and all four work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial process with a mutual goal of reaching a fair settlement of all issues.
The parties and attorneys communicate and negotiate directly with one another in structured four-way settlement meetings. Binding commitments are made by both parties and their respective attorneys to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith in settlement negotiations, and to refrain from the threat or use of litigation. The parties agree that they will not go to court and if anyone wants to do so, both collaborative attorneys would be disqualified and must withdraw, and both parties would need to retain new attorneys to represent them if they wish to be represented in court. Experts, such as appraisers or business valuators, may also be brought into the process as neutrals who are jointly retained by the parties. In addition,
collaborative divorce may involve a team approach; possible team members include financial advisors and mental health professionals who can serve as coaches to help the parties effectively participate in the process, and financial specialists to assist with financial issues. In the collaborative process, the parties hire attorneys as legal advisors and settlement specialists. This process encourages creative problem solving, win-win negotiations, and resolutions that meet the needs of all members of the family. In collaborative family law, the parties are directly involved in the process and retain control over the outcome.
Disclosure of Documents: Everyone agrees to be truthful and to informally exchange all relevant information and documents saving much time and money.
Respect: Each party agrees to act respectfully and avoid disparaging or vilifying any of the participants.
Protecting Children: Each party agrees to protect and shield the children from the proceeding and to act in such a way as to minimize the impact of the divorce on them.
Neutral Experts: The parties agree to use neutral experts where necessary in a cooperative fashion. The experts cannot testify if the collaborative process breaks down. All experts are exempt from the court process.
Win-Win Solutions:The primary goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and to create a “win-win” situation for all.
No Court: Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the parties decide to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw and the process begins with new attorneys in the court system.